Adam Gase is gone. He is no more. Well, that’s not accurate, of course. Gase still exists, just not to Jets fans. The Adam Gase era was doomed before it started. Peyton Manning and his lousy recommendation wasted two years of Jets fans lives, but it’s finally over. Now fans can move on and the question becomes, move on to who?
A few names are already trickling out as the Jets make their official interview requests. Just don’t expect a decision to be made anytime soon. Because of COVID restrictions all the interviews will be done over Zoom. In theory that should make it easier to come to a decision sooner, but the Jets are going to take their time. Over these next few days you’ll be hearing about how the Jets will “take their time,” and “cast a wide net.” You’ll hear about the lessons learned from the Gase debacle. No more “forcing an offensive mind,” instead, “the Jets will focus on finding a CEO type to lead the team and change the culture.”
Those will be the themes of this draft search. But from everything JetsInsider.com has heard, those themes will be more than boiler plate talking points. Those themes will lead the direction of this search. Most importantly, it sounds like Joe Douglas will be the one running the show. Connor Hughes of The Athletic reported that Douglas, “will run point on team’s head coaching search,” and that’s exactly what needs too happen.
Woody Johnson will not return from his role as ambassador to the UK before the search has concluded, he will not take part in any of the interviews. Christopher Johnson apparently recognized the mistakes he made last time around and has decided to trust the football person, Joe Douglas, to run the search. There is of course some confusion about the wording of these reports, but it seems that’s just semantics. Of course, Christopher Johnson has the final say. He’s the acting owner, that’s how things work. Robert Kraft has final say over everything in New England too, it is still his team. Kraft is just smart enough to stay out of Belichick’s way. Johnson has to sign off on whatever decision Douglas makes, but fans should feel good that he’ll be signing off on Douglas’ decision. Johnson confirmed all of this today in his post-season presser with reporters.
So, let’s get to these names. The Jets have already put in interview requests for Chiefs OC, Eric Bieniemy, Colts DC, Matt Eberflus, Bills OC, Brian Daboll and Titans OC, Arthur Smith. Those are the first four names the Jets have requested to interview, which shows that while they are looking for the CEO type, they are still leaning more in the offensive direction for now. You can certainly expect Ravens DC, Don “Wink” Martindale, to be added to this list as well as the two college coaches, Matt Campbell from Iowa State and Northwestern’s, Pat Fitzgerald. If I was in charge I’d be bringing University of Georgia OC, Todd Monken, back for another interview if he’d be willing. I don’t get the sense that that will actually happen though.
Don’t be surprised to see a couple more names mentioned for interviews, but expect the hire to ultimately be one of the names mentioned in the previous paragraph. Both Fitzgerald and Campbell fit the CEO mold perfectly, the biggest question when it comes to them is, are they really willing to leave the cushy college job? I still get the sense that Campbell wants to remain in college, Fitzgerald seems more attainable. If Fitzgerald ever wants to coach in the NFL then he should make the jump now. There’s no telling if he’ll ever get this opportunity again. Campbell will likely have plenty more opportunities down the road.
Daboll would be my number one overall choice, tied with Monken (but again I don’t see that happening). Problem is, I expect Daboll to end up with the Chargers. Getting to coach Justin Herbert and reunite with GM Tom Telesco, who he went to high school with, seems like a perfect match.
Arthur Smith is an excellent play-caller and offensive coordinator, but he doesn’t seem to fit the CEO mold. That leaves Bieniemy, Eberflus, Martindale and the two college coaches if they’re willing. All of them fit the CEO mold. They are all “leaders of men,” and the type of people you would trust with instilling a “winning culture.”
The job will ultimately come down to two things; the interview and relationships. All of these candidates will have the chance to win the interview and claim the job by being just that impressive. But there’s two coaches with an edge in the relationship department. Eberflus has that relationship with Jets assistant GM, Rex Hogan. Martindale has the Ravens connection with Douglas himself.
Right now I’d say the smart money is on Martindale. That could change if we find out for sure that either college coach is ready to make the jump. But Martindale checks all the boxes and if he will bring Clemson’s OC, Tony Elliot, with him it will even check the box that they say they aren’t trying to force.